These Golden Panthers walk on water

In an annual rite of passage that began 20 years ago, Jaime Canaves’ architecture students create shoes that allow them to walk on water. At least that’s the idea.

Professor Jaime Canaves’ sophomore architecture students had a seemingly impossible assignment this semester. In order to pass the class, they would have to walk on water.

On Nov. 12, 80 Golden Panthers competed in the 20th annual architecture department’s Walk on Water contest. Friends and family gathered behind University Park’s Green Library to watch participants – kept afloat by shoes designed and built in teams – attempt to cross the 175-foot-wide lake. Bragging rights, a $500 first prize and dry clothes were all at stake.

“It took a lot of work and money to build them,” said first-place winner Ana Costanzo, who built her shoes with teammate Brian Vazquez. Costanzo crossed the finish line in 1 minute, 30 seconds – a mere three seconds off the record.

Valentina Nahon and Alison Garcia took second place with a pair of shoes made of plywood, Styrofoam, broom sticks (for handles) and hot-pink duct tape to keep it all together.

“Once I was on the water, it wasn’t that difficult,” said Nahon. “I just moved slowly not to lose my balance.”

Most original idea goes to Mike Carey whose design was reminiscent of a hamster wheel. The model was deceivingly easy to handle but, Carey lamented, it didn’t have the quick-start capabilities of some of the other inventions. “I needed to wait for the bottles to fill-up with water and rise before I could really get going.” He came in tenth.

Most original approach goes to Paula Alzate, who in practice realized that her model worked better if she walked backward. Canaves christened her “the moonwalker.”